Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Changes proposed for fishing regs

Lansing – Several proposed fishing regulation changes were
presented to the state Natural Resources Commission at its meeting
earlier this month in Lansing. These proposals were introduced for
information only and will be submitted for commission and DNR
director action at the NRC’s Oct. 8 meeting in Ontonagon. Public
comment will be accepted on these issues until Oct. 8.

To comment, contact the NRC at (517) 373-2352 or via the DNR web
site, www.michigan.gov/dnr. Look for
the link to the NRC on the right side of the home page.

Lake trout

The DNR Fisheries Division is proposing an extension to the lake
trout season on Lake Huron.

“Fishing effort through 2008 for salmon and trout on Lake Huron
has declined 71 percent since 2004, due primarily to declines in
chinook salmon,” the DNR wrote in a memo to the NRC. “Lake trout
harvest at 10 index ports has shown a 36-percent decline, due more
to the general decline in effort than to any shortage of lake
trout.”

The current lake trout season on Lake Huron ends Sept. 30. But
ice and pier anglers have been catching and releasing good numbers
of lakers near shore during the winter, according to the DNR.

Those anglers have asked for a season change to allow them to
keep lake trout caught through the ice.

“After review of creel census data and mortality estimates for
lake trout, Fisheries Division believes lengthening the lake trout
season would allow anglers to harvest lake trout during the winter
and early spring when these fish are close to shore, without
negatively impacting the resource,” the DNR_wrote.

The season change would only be in lake trout management units
MH3-6, basically from Harrisville south to Port Huron. The season
would remain closed during the fall spawning season.

Sturgeon

The DNR and Sturgeon for Tomorrow are asking for an overhaul of
the sturgeon regulations on Black Lake in Cheboygan County for the
February season. The proposal calls for:

€ a 4-day season;

€ no preseason registration, anglers could fish at will;

€ an 8 a.m. start time and a greatly shortened fishing day;

€ removal of the 36-inch minimum size limit;

€ mandatory fish registration;

€ new allowable harvest quotas;

€ a gender-based quota with a lower threshold for closing the
season for female fish.

“While we are not recommending any change to the current fish
quota, we support developing a new allowable harvest quota based on
the sturgeon population dynamics in Black Lake and sound biological
principles for sustainability,” the DNR wrote.

Trout streams

Fisheries managers want to simplify trout-fishing regulations.
Earlier this year, the DNR_Fisheries Division released a proposal
to make several significant changes to trout stream classifications
and regulations.

Many anglers disagreed with what the DNR proposed, so fisheries
managers backed off on the proposal and requested more angler
input. After several months of input, the DNR is back with another
trout stream proposal.

The new the proposal would combine Types 5, 6, and 7 streams
into one category known as “gear-restricted streams.” All of these
streams are already listed as open for artificial flies only, but
have different size and possession limits.

“Based on comments received, there appears to be broad support
for combining the Types 5, 6, and 7 categories into one new
category, which will be called Gear Restricted Streams and will not
carry a number designation,” the DNR wrote in its memo. “This will
leave four numbered stream categories (Types 1, 2, 3 and 4), that
will remain unchanged from their current status.”

Bass

The DNR is proposing the addition of six lakes – Fire and Indian
in Iron County, Cub in Kalkaska County, Big Bass in Lake County,
and Arbutus and Spider in Grand Traverse County – to the list of
lakes with special fishing regulations for coolwater species.

Fisheries managers are proposing an 18-inch minimum size limit
for bass and a one-fish possession limit on Fire and Indian lakes,
following surveys and angler reports of bass population
reductions.

“Angler harvest of bass occurs mainly during the open-water,
hook-and-line fishery and appears to have had an adverse effect on
bass size structure on these lakes,”_the DNR wrote in its memo to
the commission. “Historical survey results over the past 10 years
indicate notable declines in the number of legal-size smallmouth
bass and largemouth bass in these waters.”

On Cub, Big Bass, Arbutus, and Spider lakes, the DNR says the
bass populations are strong, but the growth rates are well below
the state average, and many fish never reach the 14-inch legal
minimum.

Managers are recommending a reduction in the size limit from 14
inches to 10 inches.

“Competition for food may be limiting these fish from reaching
the 14-inch minimum size limit,”_the DNR wrote. “Therefore, anglers
do not have the ability to harvest bass due to the failure of the
bass to attain the appropriate size for harvest.”

Walleye

The DNR is proposing the removal of a regulation that limits
anglers on portions of the St. Joe River and Little Bay de Noc to
one walleye over 23 inches.

Those restrictions were implemented, the state says, to protect
spawning walleyes in the spring. According to fisheries biologists,
surveys conducted prior to and since the regulations were put in
place indicate that the regulation had very little impact on the
resource, so there is no need to limit the catch any longer.

Spearing

The DNR is proposing to remove the spearing ban on pike and
muskies from Cornwall Impoundment in Cheboygan County, West Twin
Lake in Montmorency County, and Otsego Lake in Otsego County.

“The spearing ban that currently exists on these lakes is a
product of past tiger muskellunge stocking efforts, which have long
since terminated,”_the DNR wrote. “It is anticipated that the
proposed regulation changes will not have any negative effect on
local fish communities.”

Other fishery issues

The commission and director also are looking at the issues of
taking minnows for personal use; removing the spawning closure on
the Leland River in Leelanau County and the Boardman River in Grand
Traverse County; changing the date for removal of ice shanties on
Michigan-Wisconsin boundary waters from March 31 to March 15 to
align the date with Wisconsin rules; removing several streams from
designated trout stream designation; and removing two lakes –
Nawakwa Lake in Alger County and Hoffman Lake in Charlevoix County
-_from the list of lakes where pike may be taken at any size.

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